Martial arts studio owner being sued after school closes.

arnisador

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Martial arts studio owner being sued

Business owner failed to give refunds, customers say



The investigation revealed that contract amounts ranged from $2,900 to $5,760 and that many customers paid up to $2,210 in additional program fees. Carter said Stowe used the money to pay personal expenses, lease a new vehicle and vacation in the Caribbean.
[...]Earlier this year, Laura Gagnon, 36, Noblesville, signed up her 4-year-old son Christian at Champion Martial Arts. She and his father paid $3,600 for a two-year membership.


Six weeks after classes began, a representative from Champion persuaded the Gagnons to pay another $460 toward Christian's promotions as he progressed over the next two years.


But in September the classes stopped, the Noblesville studio was closed, and Gagnon couldn't get her phone calls returned. Within a month, all three studios were closed.


The Attorney General is suing, and it isn't the owner's first time for being sued for misleading customers. He certainly got a lot of money out of people...those are some nontrivial per-person amounts.
 

matt.m

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This is absolutely disturbing to be polite. However, people get scammed all the time. Too many times people believe "You get what you pay for." Unfortunately, there are a lot of "Predators" that rely on the "Niave".

Sad, however, consider all the crappy junk mail received in the mail box of our homes and e-mail boxes daily.
 

Deaf Smith

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Just being a black belt, or instructor does not put a halo on anyone.

Yes it's sad to see this happen but there are crooks in any profession.

Somehow I doubt the customers will get any money back.

Deaf
 

terryl965

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It is the way of the society, make some quick cash and get out of dodge.
 
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seasoned

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As martial artists, we need to hold people accountable. Every DoJo that opens up in our area, should be visited early on as a good will jester. I know anybody can buy a black belt and start a business, but in the long run we need to monitor our own. If someone is a phony it will show up within the first visit by authentic concerned martial artists.
 

girlbug2

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But then if local black belts discover a phony, what should they do about it? (assuming this is before the scam has been perpetrated)
 
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arnisador

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The article doesn't say he did this on purpose, though it implies the AG thinks so...but there could be a reason why his business had to fold. SO, while there's reason to suspect he may be a crook or at least unreasonably negligent, it's too soon to be sure! I was taken aback by "contract amounts ranged from $2,900 to $5,760 and that many customers paid up to $2,210 in additional program fees" as that's a lot of additional fees on top of the basic contract. I know many schools do thing slike that, but here's a reminder that it isn't a very consumer-friendly business model.
 

IcemanSK

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As martial artists, we need to hold people accountable. Every DoJo that opens up in our area, should be visited early on as a good will jester. I know anybody can buy a black belt and start a business, but in the long run we need to monitor our own. If someone is a phony it will show up within the first visit by authentic concerned martial artists.

A good friend of mine is a 7th Dan in his system. He visits as many new schools as he can. 9 times out of 10, he's not received well. He's an easy-going guy without a school or an agenda: yet he runs across so many folks that want to tell him how wonderful they are (or tell him nothing at all). The hard part is, what can he do with the knowledge that the new school down the block is owned by a joker? Tell the new instructor's students? Put an add in the paper? The reality is, he tells me & we both wait about a year until the school closes. Then there's another group of folks soured on MA in our town.

I wish I knew what a good answer to this problem would be.
 

ackks10

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does anyone know this guy??? i mean who is he?? it's this kind of crap that gives the rest of us a BAD name, we had a guy here in south Jersey who did the same thing, he did what the song said "go on take the money and run"
(Steve Miller) well anyway i hope they get the guy.
 

Cryozombie

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But then if local black belts discover a phony, what should they do about it? (assuming this is before the scam has been perpetrated)

And the problem is, who's to say a person is a phony? I could go into a lot of legitimate schools, look at what they do and scoff, and say what they teach is crap... but who am *I* to judge?

I mean, Hell, if an MMA guy walked into most TMA schools, he may say the same thing... so what?
 

hkfuie

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As martial artists, we need to hold people accountable. Every DoJo that opens up in our area, should be visited early on as a good will jester.

Seasoned, I hope you mean "gesture!" All I know of you is your avatar, so I got a visual of your avatar in a jester's hat doing cartwheels and telling jokes. Ha, ha!

On a serious note, I agree with you. I think there is an artificial division of fear amongst martial arts schools. As IcemanSK pointed out about his friend, I visit schools, too, in the hopes of building good relations with other school owners (not to root out "bad" school owners). But often, I am faced with the same thing: lots of suspicion or someone trying to sell me some classes.

Also, I think it is dangerous to try to root out the "bad" guys. Whose rules do we follow in determining who is bad?

And what could be done? That question is not retorical.
 

seasoned

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Seasoned, I hope you mean "gesture!" All I know of you is your avatar, so I got a visual of your avatar in a jester's hat doing cartwheels and telling jokes. Ha, ha!

On a serious note, I agree with you. I think there is an artificial division of fear amongst martial arts schools. As IcemanSK pointed out about his friend, I visit schools, too, in the hopes of building good relations with other school owners (not to root out "bad" school owners). But often, I am faced with the same thing: lots of suspicion or someone trying to sell me some classes.

Also, I think it is dangerous to try to root out the "bad" guys. Whose rules do we follow in determining who is bad?

And what could be done? That question is not retorical.

Thank you, you made my day. Or did I make yours. :) In the heat of battle, spell check is good, but not always fair. All we need for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing. It behooves all of us, as legitimate lovers of the arts, to see who is in our area and to check them out. I like to see if there is a certificate on their wall, where their roots take them, and who their instructor is. What we did in the 60s to root out undesirables, would not fly today. Call me old fashion, or out of touch, or just old. I may fit into one of these. I apologize in advance for any spelling errors, and as a side note, I type with my index fingers only.
 

Cryozombie

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Also, I think it is dangerous to try to root out the "bad" guys. Whose rules do we follow in determining who is bad?

And what could be done? That question is not retorical.

Exactly what I meant. Thank you.
 

Senjojutsu

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Many states have consumer protection laws that will limit contract provisions and define refund processes on prepaid tuition, in reaction to fitness/health club horror stories, which as a rule martial arts schools will fall under. Many of the horror stories have dealt with hard sell health club franchise chains that will remain nameless because you all heard their names.
:)

I have no idea how Indiana law stands on it.

Of course if the individual instructor goes on the lamb, the chase is on.

Maybe I will throw this back to all you.

How far (# of months) in advance have you ever prepaid your martial arts tuition?

I ask this not with a question of fraud or the legitimacy of your instructors, I pose it since MA schools are all small businesses and things happen/change in this world.

To your status, or health, or job maybe same about the head instructor to the physical location
 

seasoned

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A good friend of mine is a 7th Dan in his system. He visits as many new schools as he can. 9 times out of 10, he's not received well. He's an easy-going guy without a school or an agenda: yet he runs across so many folks that want to tell him how wonderful they are (or tell him nothing at all). The hard part is, what can he do with the knowledge that the new school down the block is owned by a joker? Tell the new instructor's students? Put an add in the paper? The reality is, he tells me & we both wait about a year until the school closes. Then there's another group of folks soured on MA in our town.

I wish I knew what a good answer to this problem would be.

I guess you are right, nothing. We can only hope that the good outweighs the bad. The sad thing is that in time, bad will look good, and no one will even know the difference..
 

myusername

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Also, I think it is dangerous to try to root out the "bad" guys. Whose rules do we follow in determining who is bad?

I think this was how a certain Bully boy website called Bullshido got started! Look how that turned out!
 

jks9199

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I think this was how a certain Bully boy website called Bullshido got started! Look how that turned out!
The problem is that there's no really effective way to monitor martial arts instruction. It's too diverse... A Chinese style school shouldn't be the same as a Bujinkan school which is different from a krav maga program which isn't the same as a Filipino club ad infinitum. The best that I think you can do is report questionable business practices to someplace like the local chamber of commerce or Better Business Bureau.

One thing I do encourage everyone to push for involves the schools that essentially run martial arts themed day care. They ought to be required to meet the same standards as any other day care program regarding teacher background checks and operations.
 

teekin

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OK. There are certain non-variables in any form of MA that must be taught, practiced and mastered. Static balance, dynamic balance, relaxation, tone vs tension, timing, core strength, focus, understanding leverage and fulcrums, flexability, endurance, muscle control, muscle memory, fast twitch vs long twitch muscle, ect.
If you can walk into a class and see that the are teaching fluff with none of the Work, the hard, dull, repeatitive, boring work that must be done to really understand and be able to do any MA then call a spade a spade! It crap. It's pandering to someone's ego via their wallet. It's crap! Take a stand already.
lori
 

kidswarrior

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This quote from Bob White a month or two ago says a lot of what I feel about MAists policing each other:

I personally would like to see more people working to develop their owns skills than wasting time trying to be a kenpo policeman.

I would have to be single, retired, or both to have the time and energy to go visiting other schools, and right now I'm neither.
 

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